Archive for category Step 10

Get a life…

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk 1915 - 1968The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

- Thomas Merton

Sure, I had heard about spirituality and living a spiritual life but I paid little attention to it. What could it possibly have to do with me? What could it do for me that I couldn’t do for myself? As the consequences of my addictive behaviors grew and swept away everything I thought I had accomplished I felt a deep hopelessness and despair. I truly understood the phrase ‘incomprehensible demoralization’, used in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provided me with the tools to begin living this spiritual life which is the solution to my problem.

The 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program of action, not a program of study or discussion. Going to meetings and talking about recovery is not sufficient. The spiritual principles I experience when working Steps 1 – 9 must continue to be put into action in Steps 10 – 12. This is a daily process of being present in each moment in a spiritual way. My humility, gratitude, tolerance and love exist only in this moment, not yesterday and not tomorrow but right here, right now. Contrary to a sometimes misunderstood term used in AA these are not spiritual tools laid at my feet to be used when times are tough. They become part of me, of who I am, to be used in every and all aspects of my life. They are my life; my spiritual life.

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“Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear.”

- Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84.

With that simple sentence, the book Alcoholics Anonymous begins our instructions for Step 10. This is the ‘design for living’ that allows us to find contentment in our life without drinking. Nearly 2,000 years ago early Christians living in the deserts of Egypt, the Desert Fathers, discovered the same thing. “Pay attention to yourself!” Having faced our reality honestly in Step 1, we admitted our problem (lack of power). In Step 2 we came to believe there was a solution (more power). In Step 3 we made a commitment to give this solution a chance by making a decision to live a spiritual life. These last two steps arise from the desperation of finally realizing just how dire our situation is. Without help we are lost. In Steps 4 – 9 we learn the skills necessary to practice our ‘design for living’: With the help of our sponsor and our faith in a Higher Power we fearlessly make an inventory of character defects and the faulty attitudes and beliefs that have driven our actions for a lifetime. We become willing to be transformed by asking for help in removing these shortcomings. We humbly go to those we had harmed and do what we can to fix our mistakes.

Having begun the process of removing those things that block us from living in the Spirit we continue to use these tools daily as we walk through life. Not just at night. We need to remain present to our lives and pay attention to our thoughts, our attitudes, our emotions and our actions as we go. It is difficult. The patterns we have developed during our life are often deeply ingrained. So we practice, knowing that we will make mistakes. Eventually, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, things change. These practices become our new way of life. They become part of who we are and intuitive. We discover that living a spiritual life is as simple as paying attention.

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